The Prime Minister of Montenegro Igor Lukšić has signed an agreement with Jewish community leaders to recognize the Jewish community as an official minority in Montenegro.
The agreement was signed during an official ceremony held with representatives of the Montenegro Jewish community, including president of the community, Yasha Alfandri, and Albania's Chief Rabbi Yoel Kaplan.
The recognition was given only a few months after a delegation from the Rabbinical Center of Europe (RCE) and Chief Rabbi of Israel
Yona Metzger met with the prime minister
to discuss the issue.
“We discussed this issue with Prime Minister Lukšić during our meeting and he promised he would move ahead with the issue of official recognition,” said Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg, deputy director of the RCE and a member of the delegation. “We are glad to hear he kept his promise.”
The prime minister made note of the delegation during his address. “This historic agreement was signed quickly and efficiently thank to the visit of Chief Rabbi of Israel Yona Metzger to our country a few months ago,” Lukšić said.
“There is no doubt that this is an historic day and an important milestone for the future of Montenegro Jewry.”
The establishment of the Montenegro Jewish community was initiated by Rabbi Yoel Kaplan. As part of his work to strengthen Jewish life in the Balkan region, Rabbi Kaplan sent a group of yeshiva students to Montenegro in order to celebrate the first official Pesach Seder last year. This was considered the start of the revival of Jewish life in Montenegro.
The agreement also concerns issues of property and education.
Alfandri thanked the government and noted that Montenegro is one of the few places in Europe where the Holocaust did not reach.
Before the agreement, Montenegro had three officially recognized religions; Roman Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity and Islam.
There are considered around 1,000 Jews in Montenegro and the RCE is delighted to play a role in boosting the small, but committed community.
“Creating a Jewish communal structure in Montenegro is a great challenge but a vital one,” said Rabbi Aryeh Goldberg.
“There is a thirst for being part of a wider Jewish community, not just in their own country, but being connected to the European Jewish community and the RCE is always willing to assist these communities regardless of size.”